The last school holidays saw us a household held in the grips of a Gastro outbreak. Quite common over the winter months but not so fun for babies (and big babies!) and their mother! Sensitive little tummies weren't up to taking on too much after the worst had gone so soup seemed the answer.
I hit the supermarket for a little convenience as I was still trying to catch up on the housework after being ill and playing nurse to purchase a few cans of soup for dinner.
Of course I had my chemical hunter hat on and was dismayed that in the large tin soup section and in the fresh soups in the fridge I found it almost impossible to find a variety of flavorsome soups that were chemical free.
The chemical that I saw repeated tin after tin was E250 or Sodium Nitrate. So what is Sodium Nitrate? Nitrates in general are a chemical we should avoid putting in our body, including this one.
When it comes to food E250 is primarily used to inhibit micro-organisms like botulism and is mostly found in products that have meat in them. So, in the soup aisle it was mainly in soups that had beef, chicken and bacon in them. It is a crystalline white powder that is also used to pinken up meats so some unscrupulous butchers and supermarkets use it to make their meat look fresher and more inviting.
Interestingly enough E250 is also found in the chemical industry. It is a corrosion inhibitor so is used in cooling systems, metallurgy and grinding. It is also used in photography. Currently in Australia it is being used to poison wild boar that are an introduced pest, so this gives you an indication of it's toxicity.
So why should you avoid it in your tin soup?
- It can be toxic if swallowed in large amounts
- Is an eye, skin and respiratory irritant
- Can cause hyperactivity
- Is a carcinogenic and when combined with other chemicals in the stomach can create other adverse reactions.
Lapidge, Steven; J. Wishart; M. Smith; L. Staples (2009). "Is America Ready for a Humane Feral Pig Toxicant?". Proceedings of the 13th Wildlife Damage Management Conference: 49–59.
Cowled, BD; SJ Lapidge; S. Humphrys; L Staples (2008). "Nitrite Salts as Poisons in Baits for Omnivores". International Patent WO/2008/104028.
Miranda Hitti (17 April 2007). "Study: Cured Meats, COPD May Be Linked". WebMD Medical News.
Dennis, M J; Wilson, L A (2003). "NITRATES AND NITRITES". Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition. p. 4136. doi:10.1016/B0-12-227055-X/00830-0. ISBN 978-0-12-227055-0.
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